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A First Aid Kit for Your Bug-Out Sailboat

First Aid TrainingWhen preparing for an extended voyage at sea, having a comprehensive first aid kit onboard your sailboat is essential. A first aid kit can help you respond to a range of injuries and illnesses, including cuts, burns, fractures, and dehydration. It can also be useful in treating more serious medical emergencies, such as heart attacks, strokes, or severe allergic reactions.

When putting together a first aid kit for your sailboat, it is important to include a variety of medical supplies and equipment that can help you respond to different types of emergencies.

Overall, a well-stocked first aid kit is an essential item to pack on your bug-out sailboat. With the right supplies and knowledge, you can be prepared to respond to a range of medical emergencies and help keep yourself and your crew safe while at sea.

Please note that this list is not intended to be exhaustive or definitive, and you should consult with a medical professional or a qualified first-aid instructor to determine what supplies you need based on your specific needs and circumstances.

On our boat we keep four medical kits:

  1. Medicine Kit
  2. First Aid Kit
  3. Trauma Kit
  4. Surgical Kit

There are numerous items that are repeated in different kits. For example, prescription medications are kept in both the Medicine Kit as well as the First Aid Kit (with copies of the prescriptions in the First Aid Kit).

If you can not afford to purchase all of these kits, then start with the Medicine Kit. When it is fully stocked, move on to the First Aid Kit, and so on.

The most used Medicine and First Aid Kits are the most easily accessible, and kept in plain site in the salon. The Trauma Kit can be accessed within 30 seconds, and everyone knows where it is. The Surgical Kit is stored away, but still accessible in a few minutes.

Medicine Kit

The most frequently needed items go in this kit. This is primarily for use before any injury occurs.

  1. Medical history and allergy information of all crew members
  2. Prescription medications (open/in-use)
  3. Motion sickness medication (e.g., dimenhydrinate or meclizine) for seasickness
  4. Pain and fever relievers (e.g., acetaminophen or ibuprofen)
  5. Anti-inflammatory medications (e.g., aspirin or naproxen) for joint pain or swelling
  6. Antihistamines (e.g., diphenhydramine or cetirizine) for allergic reactions or insect bites
  7. Sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF)
  8. Insect repellent and mosquito netting
  9. Eye drops for dry or irritated eyes
  10. Condoms

First-Aid Kit

Emergency Medical KitThis kit is your first stop for minor injuries and day-to-day needs. It should be mounted in a visible location, like the main salon.

  1. First-aid manual or instructions for basic first-aid procedures
  2. Medical history and allergy information of all crew members
  3. Prescription medications (closed/sealed) and copies of prescriptions
  4. Pain and fever relievers (e.g., acetaminophen or ibuprofen)
  5. Anti-inflammatory medications (e.g., aspirin or naproxen) for joint pain or swelling
  6. Antihistamines (e.g., diphenhydramine or cetirizine) for allergic reactions or insect bites
  7. Motion sickness medication (e.g., dimenhydrinate or meclizine) for seasickness
  8. Epi-Pen/Epinephrine autoinjector
  9. Adhesive bandages in various sizes (e.g., sterile gauze pads, adhesive tape, and scissors)
  10. Antiseptic wipes, alcohol wipes, or hydrogen peroxide for wound cleaning
  11. Topical antiseptic solution or cream (e.g., Betadine or Neosporin) for disinfecting and promoting healing of minor cuts, scrapes, and burns
  12. Sterile saline solution for flushing eyes and wounds
  13. Oral rehydration salts (ORS) or electrolyte replacement drinks for dehydration
  14. Thermometer for measuring body temperature
  15. Syringes, needles, and sterile medical gloves
  16. Scissors, tweezers, and forceps for removing foreign objects or splinters
  17. Emergency dental repair kit (e.g., temporary filling material or dental wax)
  18. Basic medical equipment, such as a blood pressure cuff, stethoscope, and otoscope.

Remember, it's always better to have more than what you need, so consider stocking up on extra supplies to last for the entire trip. Also, make sure to store all medical and first-aid supplies in a dry and cool location, away from direct sunlight, and check the expiration dates of all medications and supplies regularly.

In addition to packing a well-stocked first aid kit, it is also important to have basic medical training and knowledge of how to use the equipment in your kit. This can include taking a first aid or CPR course, or consulting with a medical professional to ensure that you are properly prepared to respond to medical emergencies at sea.

Trauma Kit

Trauma KitHere is a list of supplies that could be included in a trauma kit:

  1. Sterile gauze pads (4x4 inches) - for cleaning and covering wounds
  2. Elastic bandages - to wrap and stabilize injuries
  3. Adhesive bandages (assorted sizes) - for small cuts and scrapes
  4. Tourniquet - to control severe bleeding
  5. Hemostatic agent (such as QuickClot) - to promote blood clotting
  6. Trauma shears - to cut clothing and bandages
  7. Nitrile gloves - to protect against infection
  8. Face shield or mask - to protect against bloodborne pathogens
  9. Saline solution or water - for cleaning wounds
  10. Tweezers - for removing foreign objects from wounds
  11. Medical tape - for securing bandages
  12. Disposable thermometer - to monitor body temperature
  13. Blanket - to keep the patient warm
  14. Triangular bandages - to make slings or immobilize limbs
  15. CPR mask - for rescue breathing
  16. Emergency whistle - to signal for help in an emergency
  17. Penlight or flashlight - for examining wounds in low light conditions
  18. Prescription pain relievers such as
    1. Paracetamol or acetaminophen greater 1 gram,
    2. NSAID’s (Non Steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen, diclofenac, naproxen
    3. Opiates or opioids (morphine/ codeine compounds)

Surgical Kit

Surgical KitSurgical procedures should only be performed by individuals with appropriate training and qualifications.

Even if nobody on-board has surgical training, it can be helpful to carry the surgical kit so that if needed, and a qualified professional can be found, you have the supplies needed for them to do their job.

  1. Sterile surgical gloves
  2. Surgical masks
  3. Sterile drapes and towels
  4. Sterile gowns
  5. Sterile surgical instruments, including scalpels, scissors, forceps, retractors, needle holders, and clamps.
  6. Sterile suture materials, including absorbable and non-absorbable sutures, needles, and thread.
  7. Local anesthetics for numbing the surgical site (e.g., lidocaine)
  8. General anesthesia medications and equipment (e.g., propofol, endotracheal tubes, and oxygen supply)
  9. Sterile irrigation solution, such as saline or sterile water, for cleaning and irrigating wounds
  10. Sterile dressings and bandages for wound care
  11. Hemostatic agents to control bleeding, such as hemostatic gauze or powder.
  12. Sterile lubricant for catheterization or surgical procedures
  13. Skin disinfectants, such as iodine or chlorhexidine, for pre-operative skin preparation
  14. Non-sterile instruments, such as scissors, forceps, and tweezers, for wound care and minor procedures
  15. Sterile syringes and needles for administering medications and injections.

It's important to note that surgical procedures should only be performed by individuals with the appropriate qualifications and training. Additionally, it may be difficult to perform more complex procedures on a sailboat due to limited space and resources. It's important to have a clear plan in place for emergencies and to seek medical assistance when necessary.